We have all been sick at one time or another, but as children, a “get well” routine is established, usually by our mothers.
For me it went like this: I would lay in my bed, and every few hours my mother would come in, feel my head to determine if I had a fever. Oh how I loved the feel of her cool hand against my forehead. She would then ask me the following questions: “Do you want some coca-cola or ginger-ale to drink?” (Being sick was the only time we were allowed to have soda in the house). “Do you want the light on or off? Do you want the door open or closed? Can I bring you anything else?” Once those questions had been answered, she would go downstairs to resume her daily routine, only to come back in a few hours and repeat. This is how I got better–in loving silence.
For my wife, who grew up in Vienna Austria, it was completely different. Every few hours, her mother would make her sit in a chair by the bed. The bed covers would be shaken out and the bed remade. The window would be open to let the “sick” air out, and the healthy air in. Her sister would then sit by her bedside and they would play games together for hours. There was lots of talking, lots of laughing, and lots of love. This is how she got better.
Can you see where this is going? Forward to 1970. Douglas and Gloria are newly married. The very first time I got sick, there she was, making me get out of bed, opening windows, sitting by my bedside and chatting. I remember laying in bed thinking, “Will she ever leave me alone so I can get better? She hates me. Please please please go away.”
And the first time she got sick, I felt her head, asked her the questions my mother used to ask, and went away. And what was she thinking? “Where is he? Why is he leaving me alone. He hates me. I could die here and he wouldn’t notice.”
Which brings us back to my insight about the Golden Rule. We were both following it, to be sure, but without the knowledge of our respective “get well” routines. So I say again, when someone you love does something nice for you, lovingly accept the gesture, and make a mental note of what they just did. This is surely something that they would want someone to do for them under the same circumstances.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you treat your birthday as just another day, and don’t make a big deal of it. But a good friend always gives you a funny card, year after year, and always buys you a birthday cupcake. Guess what you should do for them on their birthday?
And there it is. Rule Golden The.